Re: Inconsistency on Shroud vs. Genesis.
Mon, 09 Aug 1999 21:41:43 +0000

At 08:32 AM 08/09/1999 -0400, George Murphy wrote:
> Certainly it's a truth of revelation (& not only Gen.1) that God is the
>of all things. What I referred to was the idea that the creation itself
is divine
>revelation - discussion of which would get us into the whole natural
theology question,
>Romans 1 &c.

In the sense that the ID group tries to use a flawed approach (one that
never tells us what actually happened but only tells us what didn't
happen), I agree. But I can't see why people like you fight against the
idea that there might be some way to unite modern observational data with a
newer interpretation of the Scripture. Whether mine is successful or not
is not the issue here. Just the concept. Let's say Joe Camel comes up with
a fantastic synthesis between what the Bible says and modern science. Is it
right to reject Joe's synthesis because we don't believe that the creaton
is a revelation? How do we know that the creation does not witness to
God's creative act in the past? Afterall, nature is a witness for much of
what modern science believes happened in the past.

> 1st, this statement is incorrect. Jerome said that the creation story is
>"after the manner of a popular poet", & there was extensive use in the
early church
>of allegorical interpretation (which I am NOT recommending) of Genesis as
well as
>other texts. It was particularly with the Reformation that the emphasis
was placed on a
>single "literal" meaning - usually understood to be historical narrative -
of the
>biblical text.
> But I think we also have to say that, with all the errors and excesses of
>biblical criticism, we've learned some things about the historical
character of
>Scripture, the relationships of biblical texts to other cultures, literary
types, & of
>course scientific understanding of history and the world, which the
theologians of the
>early & medieval church or the Reformation didn't have. We really have
learned some

Genesis 1-11 doesn't have the similies [sp?], allegories and other poetic
devices found in the Psalms, which all agree is ancient Hebrew poetry. I
don't see statements in early Genesis like:

The Lord is my shepherd.
he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water
Let them be as chaff before the wind,

Many psalms are like prayers, not at all in the style of Genesis:

Unto thee, O Jehovah, will I call
Draw me not away with the wicked,

Looking at the literary style I see in Psalms I don't see it in early
Genesis. Where are the similies?

> Say for (over) simplicity that Gen.1-11 contains stories. _Details
matter in

Why stories? I think the only reason moderns believe that Genesis has no
bearing on creation as it actually happened is because they have been
unable to present a scenario that matches the Biblical account. Thus we
call it stories, or poetry, anything so long as we don't have to deal with
it as any form of history--which is what the ancients thought it was.

>> I know you never said this. What you are saying is that God can create the
>> world, but doesn't have the ability to communicate how he did it to a bunch
>> of primitive tribesman of 4000 years ago.
> No, I didn't say that either. God didn't communicate as you'd like him

Here I disagree. The effect of what you are saying is that God doesn't seem
to be able to effectively communicate anything about the truth of what
actually happened in the creation. Why, I ask, is God so impotent on this
point? As I keep pointing out, I can communicate simple truths about
creation to peasants that don't understand science. Am I more capable or
caring than God? Of course not. Examples, (again)

The universe came from a hot fire.
The earth formed from a big cloud.
Life sprang forth from the waters.
Man was created when a creature that lived in the trees was changed.

There is absolutely nothing in the above 4 sentences that contradicts
science and that a 5000 BC farmer couldn't have understood. Is it
exhaustive? NO. Is it understandable? Yes. Does it conflict with science?
NO! The implications of your view for God's communicative abilities is
bad. Couldn't God think of doing this? Of course He should have been able
to do it. But then since He didn't, we prefer to say He spoke gibberish
that only a theologian can understand and interpret. That is troubling.

> & I don't think it's necessary or profitable to try to "harmonize" all the
>Easter accounts as a single historical narrative. There is good
>evidence for the women finding the tomb empty & appearances of Jesus to
some of his
>followers. That doesn't mean that all the details of the accounts - how
many women
>there were &c - can be harmonized historically.

If there is absolutely no way to harmonize all the details then someone is
telling a whopper. Just like in the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, there was no
way to harmonize all the accounts ("I didn't have sex with that woman,
Lewinsky" and "I was alone with him and performed...."). When accounts
don't harmonize, often someone is mistaken or lying. So while you might
not find it profitable to harmonize such things, I find it crucial.

>Where is that stated in the Bible?
> Where is it stated that everything in Scripture is accurate historical

Exodus treated the 6 days as history:

Exodus 20:16 "In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth"

Is Exodus 20:16 false? That is NOT a poetic statement, unless we now want
to include anything that discusses the creation as being poetry.

>> What you advocate is that we are free to ignore the Bible.
> As far as doing science is concerned, yes. If it weren't so, S. Weinberg &
>other atheists wouldn't get anywhere in science. Of course this doesn't
mean should
>ignore the Bible _period_.

That means that the Bible has NOTHING useful to say about creation; not
even anything to say about who made it. If I claim to have made the
universe but give you no reason to believe that I knew how the universe was
created, then you would have a perfect right, no a duty, to doubt that I
created the universe. The very fact that I don't know enough high energy
physics to be able to discuss particle creation would be cited as proof
that I was an imposture. Why does such reasoning not apply to God?

> & Isaiah & Job.
>> There is no problem with the psalms being
>> poetry. They are clearly poetry. But Genesis 1-11 are not entirely
>> poetry.
> I didn't say they were. The point is that there is a way of speaking about
>creation which runs through the OT which is inspired, authoritative, true
& which
>no one with any sense reads as historical narrative.

OK, which parts are not poetry? Lay it out.

>Name the Psalm that is a genealogical list as is Genesis 5 and 11.
>> Name the psalm that gives the kind of detail seen in Genesis 1-4. I don't
>> find one in my bible.
> Of course there are different literary types in Gen.1-11.

OK, so are the genealogies supposed to represent historical figures?

>> None. But God could have simply said 'out of the sea came life'.
> With the affective connotations of "the sea" in Scripture (see the Ps, Is
& Job
>references above e.g.) this would have given Israel a disconcerting
picture. Of course
>you don't have this problem if you think of "sea" as = "lots of salt

I don't care if God said "Life came out of the water." Leave the salt out
of it. That is still a scientifically true statement which is
understandable by a Hebrew shepherd.

> No, you demonstrated that God could have given a smidgen of a hint of the
>of biological evolution. But you are misrepresenting my position & to
state it
>accurately will have to stop refrring to what God "can" or "can't" do.
It's a question
>of what God chose to do.

Now, here we come to an interesting issue. Are you claiming to know what
God chose to do? I certainly don't know the mind of God that clearly. But
I can figure out what it is possible for God to do. And given that, along
with the premise that God tells no lies, points me in the direction of
trying to find a scenario that will match both science and the Scripture.

> God apparently chose to bring about life through processes of evolution.
>doing so (as in other ways) God VOLUNTARILY limited the ways in which he
would act in
>the world.

But that does not explain why God voluntarily limited his communicative
abilities! I agree that God created life via evolution. But that doesn't
explain why God went to such lengths to hide this from the ancient shepherds.

(This is the basic idea of a kenotic theology of divine action - see my
>paper in last summer's Zygon - or the old distinction between God's
"absolute" & God's
>"ordinate" power.) Given this, it's hardly surprising that at the stage
when God wanted
>to begin the revelation of himself & his relation with the world to an
>species which had evolved, they weren't ready to understand general
relativity, quantum
>field theory, stellar evolution, DNA, population genetics &c.

For the 18th time, God didn't have to teach them quantum. He could have
used the 4 sentences I mentioned earlier. Why do you think that if God
didn't teach them quantum he couldn't tell them anything true about the
creation? That is a nonsequitor.

>> So that leaves us 2 choices. Either Jehovah is an imposture and doesn't
>> really know anything about creation or we are misinterpreting Genesis 1-11.
>> I prefer to take the latter position.
> So do I! I think that in significant ways you're mininterpreting Genesis
>It's good that we agree on something:)

Ah yes, it is good for us to agree on something. :-)

Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

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